Disappearing stream captured on video amid historic cold in B.C.

·2 min read
Disappearing stream captured on video amid historic cold in B.C.

Arctic air that is engulfing parts of western and central Canada has brought record-breaking cold weather. Vancouver saw -15.3°C on December 27, which is the coldest temperature the city has seen in half a century.

Vancouver normally sees a high of 6°C and a low of 0°C during the last week of December. Nearby Squamish saw a high of -11°C and a low of -15°C on December 27, and some folks noticed that this was causing some eye-catching behaviour in the snow.

A video submitted to The Weather Network by Brad Atchison shows an icy stream forming then quickly disappearing in Squamish. The scene is like watching a video play in reverse, and meteorologists say that the bitterly cold weather is the culprit.

Jessie Uppal, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, explains that Atchison captured a stunning example of frazil ice, which is a rare phenomenon that occurs when there are extremely cold temperatures near free-flowing bodies of water, such as streams or rivers.

“The air temperature surrounding these streams is well below freezing and much colder in comparison to the water. These small bodies of water are supercooled, meaning the temperature of the water drops below its normal freezing point, but remains as a liquid,” Uppal explained.

“This is where we start to see the formation of ice crystals on the surface of the water. These ice crystals are somewhat soft and have little structure to them. Since the flow of water is constant and turbulent, the soft ice crystals that do form are not able to completely freeze solid. With less turbulent streams, more ice is able to accumulate quicker, which created the illusion of a disappearing river.”

Forecasts say that the bitter cold will begin to dissipate on Wednesday as temperatures begin their climb towards seasonal values.

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